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Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. 2021 ‘State Right to Bear Arms in North Dakota.’ Other Laws & Policies. San Francisco, CA: Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. 19 October

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State Right to Bear Arms in North Dakota

Article. I, § 1 of the North Dakota Constitution states that all individuals have certain "inalienable rights," and includes among them the right "to keep and bear arms for the defense of their person, family, property, and the state, and for lawful hunting, recreational, and other lawful purposes, which shall not be infringed." The provision was added to the state constitution in 1984 by an "initiated amendment."

The only case analyzing article I, § 1 is State v. Ricehill. In Ricehill, the defendant was convicted under a state law prohibiting the possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He challenged the conviction, arguing, among other things, that the statute violated his state constitutional right to "keep and bear arms." The court rejected defendant's argument that the language "shall not be infringed" should be interpreted as precluding the Legislature from placing any limits on the possession of arms, stating:

We disagree with such a broad reading of the provision. Instead, we believe our Constitution's protection of the right to keep and bear arms is not absolute; although it prevents the negation of the right to keep and bear arms, that right nevertheless remains subject to reasonable regulation under the State's police power.

The court went on to find the challenged law to be "patently reasonable" and thus within the legitimate scope of the state's police power…

[Editor's note: The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence regularly updates its webpages with new data as US gun regulation evolves state by state. For the most up-to-date information on US gun laws, please refer to the Giffords URL below]

ID: Q8254

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